I did not go through a traditional education program. Should I have? Here, it's argued that teacher education is a "low-status field in universities" with weak admissions standards. The New America Foundation cites studies that suggest there is a relationship between teacher's verbal ability and student success and also a teacher's education and student success. (As an aside, it makes sense to recruit teachers from among the top students at a diverse set of colleges. This report confirms that doing so would be good for students.) The report then gives examples of the low admissions standards for education schools, which is concerning because setting low standards for entrance to programs that don't prepare their students seems like a terrible path to funnel would-be teachers through. Even though states are required to identify low-performing preparation programs, most states have never identified a single such program. That's alarming.
Teacher experience and preparation are important. But many classes are not relevant to the classroom, and teacher education programs do a poor job of attracting the best candidates to go into teaching.
It's also noteworthy that in 2009, 60,000 new teachers were hired through alternative certification programs. Teach For America provides only a small number of those new hires, though the percentage may be higher in the current economy.